Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Having Amnesia at 20 and 30

I've been harping on story lines a lot lately, but it seems that every time I turn around someone is talking about the importance of celebrating and really living your personal story.

So here's my storyline for this week:

We opened Nunsense last Friday, and it has been such a joy to live in the skin of Sister Mary Amnesia again.

The last time I played her was ten years ago. I was 20 years old, about to transfer to the University of Michigan and felt that the world was my oyster.

At a certain age, you feel invincible. The world hasn't beaten you down yet and every possibility feels like it is open to you. I hadn't yet fully realized how talented everyone else was, and had a strong belief in my own abilities and potential. Basically, I thought I was the s*%t (excuse my French). I wasn't conceited so much as supremely confident that everything was going to work out just as I had planned.

I was going to get my BFA at Michigan and move to New York and become a Broadway star, transition to Film and TV and have my own series. Believing in yourself that much can be magical.

So I marched my little butt down to a professional theatre in Orange County, and had the audacity to decide that I was going to play Sister Mary Amnesia. And my self belief sold itself to the director and music director and at 20 I landed the most challenging role of my life.

In retrospect, I was nowhere near prepared to tackle the challenges of Amnesia - the comedy, the several octaves of vocal range, the emotional arc. But I had no idea at the time. I worked harder than I ever have in my life - even learning ventriloquism - and I did it. Somehow, I did it. I was so proud. I grew so much. And it was one of those shining moments where I set my mind to wanting something and achieved it. It glimmers in my memory as a time I really pushed myself beyond my limits. To be honest, I really felt like superwoman.

At the time, I was carrying 20 college credits, teaching acting and dance classes two days a week, co directing and choreographing a production of Bye, Bye Birdie, and working a part time retail job. All on top of making that one hour each way drive (without traffic - I don't even want to talk about what it was like with traffic) to Orange County five days a week for rehearsals.

Just the thought of what my life was like then gives me a border line panic attack. I think I must have been crazy. Now, I can barely manage my weekly teaching schedule, regular auditions and this production of Nunsense.

That time in my life shaped a lot of who I am today, and I am so grateful for it. I am also grateful for the opportunity to revisit such a special role with a lot more training and some serious humility. The experience has been very different. I would hope that I am doing better work at 30 than I was at 20, but it would be nice to have back a little bit of the confidence and audacity I had at that age.

We could all use a little more confidence and self belief, right? Shouldn't we all remember what it is to dream big?

And who knows, maybe I will get a chance to benchmark with Amnesia again at 40!

Sister Mary Amnesia with Sister Mary Annette,  2013

Sister Mary Amnesia with Sister Mary Annette, 2003

1 comment:

  1. This is so cool. I remember you playing that role and I can't believe it was ten years ago! Holy cow. And yes you were crazy for taking all of that on but you did it and you can definitely call yourself superwoman.
    We all, at one point or another in life, think we are the shit. You are not alone there!
    I'm so proud of you for sticking to your dreams! I wish I could be there to watch you as Sister Mary Amnesia again.
    Love you!